Does Adderall Increase Cortisol? (A 3 point guide)


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Page last updated: 21/09/2022

Does Adderall Increase Cortisol? (A 3 point guide)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does Adderall increase cortisol in the body?”. We will also discuss what is adderall, cortisol, its effects in our body, disorders associated with Adderall, ways to lower your cortisol levels and answer frequently asked questions about the subject. 

Does Adderall Increase Cortisol?

Yes, Adderall increases cortisol. Since Adderall is a sympathomimetic amine, a stimulant compound that mimics effects of the sympathetic nervous system’s endogenous agonists, it increases the norepinephrine and epinephrine in the body. Norepinephrine and epinephrine plays an important role in our body’s natural fight-or-flight response to emergencies and stress.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a combination of drugs that includes amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, also a controlled substance. Amphetamines are ts that stimulate norepinephrine and dopamine release in the Central Nervous System (CNS), increasing their levels in the extraneuronal space therefore can increase alertness and jittery.

It is commonly used to treat individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to help them focus and those with Narcolepsy to keep them awake during daytime sleepiness. This also interacts with other drugs, hence, one should always consult their doctor when taking them to closely monitor intake.

Amphetamines also decrease fatigue and cause mild euphoria. Outside the CNS, amphetamines increase blood pressure and stimulate heart rate and respiration. When used without doctor’s prescription, this may lead to drug dependence and misuse may cause adverse effects. 

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the cortex of our adrenal gland which is then released in the blood and is transported throughout our body. Receptors for cortisol are found in almost every cell. Thus, this hormone has lots of functions depending on which it is acting upon. Our cortisol also acts as an anti-inflammatory, influences formation of memory, regulates our blood’s sugar levels, metabolism, balance of salt and water in the body and helps in the fetus development of women who are pregnant. Cortisol is also present in other species for triggering processes of birth.

Similarly, rodents, reptiles, amphibians and birds also have corticosterone. However, they have higher amounts of it compared to humans.

Cortisol is an integral part of our system due to its importance to our health. However, too much or too little production of it may compromise our health and lead to unwanted results.

What causes high levels of cortisol?

·         Stressful life events

·         issues in the pituitary gland

·         adrenal gland tumors

·         side effects of medications

·         too much exercise

·         estrogen

What are ways to lower levels of cortisol?

·         maintain good sleeping hygiene – To avoid sleeping late, exercise and well keep up with your activities during your day so your energy will signal you to take a rest by the end of the day. Other things you can do to avoid sleeping late is avoid caffeine during the afternoon, limit exposure to bright light like facing your devices in order for your body to produce more melatonin, limit distractions before going to bed, try reading a book with dim lights 30 minutes before going to bed and take short naps for at least 15 minutes when you feel tired and sleepy during the day.

·         have adequate amounts of exercise – Working out increases levels of cortisol. However, this helps it decrease during night time. Be mindful of your body when you are working out. Take a pause and rest after in between routines.

·         be mindful of stress and stressful thinking – Being able to identify what causes you stress will facilitate you finding ways to cope better and avoid becoming too stressed.

·         try relaxation techniques – Many techniques for relaxation has been proven to lower cortisol levels. Some examples are meditation, grounding, breathing exercise, yoga, massage and listening to soothing music.

·         be involved with activities that are fun and pleasurable to you – Tending to what makes you feel focused, relaxed, at peace and happy reduces cortisol. Perhaps get yourself involved with art, grounding or simply walking in the park.  

·         maintain healthy relationships – Having a harmonious relationship with significant people in your lives, including at work can result in a better quality of life. As this is so, spend quality time with your family, your partner and do activities that will nourish your relationship with them. Avoid having conflict with people to manage better your physical and mental health

·         get a pet to take care – Studies show that interactions with animals reduces stress and is related with better relationships with others.

·         be your best self – Be your best self not just by how you like, but also by how you treat yourself and others around you. Acknowledging stress, insecurities and imperfections well should help you move forward by finding ways to be kinder and forgiving.

·         tend to your spirituality – Spirituality does not only pertain to faith, but it can be manifested through calming activities such as meditation, yoga, having a social support group and performing community service or acts of kindness are found to lower levels of cortisol. It is also found that prayer and having support from people of the same faith reduces anxiety and depression.

·         eat healthy – “You are what you eat” as what they say. Make sure you are feeding your body with grace and the right amount of food and nutrients. These food will help you lower levels of cortisol: dark chocolates, fruits such as bananas and pears, black and green tea benefits more than caffeine, probiotics and prebiotics and drinking water. Also, avoid taking excessive sugar as this increases cortisol.

·         take supplements – Studies have shown that there are two nutritional supplements that help reduce cortisol. A study that explored response to stress found that a group who took fish oil had reduced levels of cortisol than the other group who did not take it. Omega 3 fatty acid is also thought in cortisol reduction. The second one is ashwagandha.

·         learn to unwind – People have different ways of unwinding. Some may be more comfortable and at peace simply by being in the company of others, others enjoy walking in the park, painting, creating music, playing an instrument, swimming or just sitting on a field. These kinds of pleasurable activities help a person manage stress and result in many benefits.

·         grounding

·         get back to your hobbies or activities that help you focus and be at peace

·         laugh – Having a good and fun time makes it hard for a person to feel stressed. It was also found that happiness is related to lower levels of cortisol.

·         avoid caffeine – Caffeine from coffee, soda or chocolates can reduce levels of cortisol. So try to avoid them or consume them in adequate amounts and appropriate time of the day. Do not let it disrupt your sleep or homeostasis.

·         if you need to take Adderall, consume them in small amounts (consult your doctor)

·         cut-off consumption of Adderall to wear off its stimulant effect.

Everyone experiences high levels of cortisol from time to time. It is a natural process in our body as a response to danger, harm, threat and stress. But having high levels of cortisol persistently can result in unwanted lasting effects on an individual’s physical and mental health.

If you are stressed most of the time, frequently having symptoms of high cortisol, it is best to have yourself checked by blood test to see how your cortisol level is doing. Your doctor will help you identify what are the causes of the increased production of cortisol and will help you balance it to a safe level. 

Does Adderall Increase Cortisol? (A 3 point guide)

What are disorders associated with Adderall?

Adderall could provide short-term relief from the effects of certain mental health disorders. However, this depends on the type of anxiety someone has.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists the five anxiety disorders as:

-Generalized Anxiety Disorder

-Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

-Panic Disorder

-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

-Social Anxiety Disorder (also called Social Phobia)

While Adderall can be a prescription medication for anxiety symptoms, it can also cause increased anxiety due to how it interacts with the brain’s chemistry.

What are the side effects of Adderall?

Other serious side effects include:

 – slowing of growth (height and weight) in children

–  seizures, mainly in patients with a history of seizures

–  eyesight changes or blurred vision

Common side effects include:

– headache

– decreased appetite

– stomach ache

– nervousness

– trouble sleeping

– mood swings

– weight loss

– dizziness

– dry mouth

– fast heart beat

            Other adverse reactions:

–   Central Nervous System – Psychotic episodes at recommended doses,

overstimulation, restlessness, irritability, euphoria, dyskinesia, dysphoria, depression, tremor, tics, aggression, anger, logorrhea, dermatillomania.

–  Allergies – Urticaria, rash, hypersensitivity reactions including angioedema and anaphylaxis. Serious skin rashes, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis have been reported.

–          Impotence, changes in libido, frequent or prolonged erections.

–          Alopecia

–          Rhabdomyolysis

–          In rare cases, psychosis may occur

Although, this is not a complete list of side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.  If the side effects still persist or get more severe and do not go away after few more days or weeks, consult your doctor.

FAQs: Does Adderall Increase Cortisol?

What medications increase cortisol?

·         prednisone (Deltasone, Prednicot, Rayos)
·         cortisone (Cortone Acetate)
·         methylprednisolone (Medrol, MethylPREDNISolone Dose Pack)
·         dexamethasone (Dexamethasone Intensol, DexPak, Baycadron)

What Hormone Does Adderall affect?

Adderall is an amphetamine, so it raises the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Basically, it creates the feeling of motivation that makes us want to take action to achieve our goals.

How do you lower cortisol levels quickly?

·         Have a good sleeping hygiene
·         Get adequate exercise
·         Learn to Recognize Stressful Thinking. …
·         Try to relax and stay calm
·         Have Fun.
·         Maintain Healthy Relationships.
·         Get a pet
·         Be Your Best Self
·         Tend to your spirituality
·         Eat Healthy
·         Take supplements

What causes high level of cortisol?

Chronic stress, intake of medications, too much exercise, significant changes in life, loss or unexpected death of a loved one, danger, other medical conditions, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are one of the many causes of high level of anxiety

What are the signs of too much cortisol?

Signs of too much cortisol are the following:
rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and abdomen contrasted with slender arms and legs
round and flushed face
changes in skin like bruises and purple stretch marks)
weakness of the muscle
mood swings, which can show as anxiety, depression or irritability
frequency of urination and increased thirst
Prolonged high levels of cortisol can cause lac of sex drive or libido in women, irregular menstruation – it may become less frequent or stop together – and may lead to amenorrhoea.
Additionally, it is found that there is an association between psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety with high levels of cortisol.

What happens if I have too little cortisol?

If you have too little cortisol, you may experience dizziness, fatigue, weight loss, muscle weakness, darkening of regions of the skin and mood changes. This can lead to life-threatening conditions without treatment.  
You will have to go to your specialist called an endocrinologist for urgent assessment


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does Adderall increase cortisol in the body?”. We also discussed what is adderall, cortisol, its effects in our body, disorders associated with Adderall, ways to lower your cortisol levels and answered frequently asked questions about the subject. 

If you are looking for an alternative, review The Best Strains for ADHD and Anxiety.